27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6 (5)
October 7, 2018
“It is not good for the man to be alone.”
These are God’s own words as He brought order to the world in creation. God did not create the man to dominate other creatures. Humans are created in God’s love and to love. That means we are not meant to be alone.
This is true on a large level. We are meant to be around people. It is also true on a one-on-one level. This points us to marriage and what it is meant to be.
Marriage is not just a contract between two people. Marriage is meant to be a covenant between two equals. A contract would set rules for the interaction between those named in the contract. For example, one spouse takes out the garbage, the other vacuums the floors. That might be a “contract” that people sharing an apartment might have.
Marriage, including sharing chores but it is meant to be much more than that. It is a relationship of love. It is a relationship of being there for each other. A contract can be ended when it no longer suits those in the contract. Marriage as a covenant is meant to last a lifetime.
Do marriages end in divorce? The answer is obviously yes. I myself have multiple relatives who are divorced. My own parents divorced when I was a child. I know how divorce affects families. Divorce happens but it is not what God intends. I think part of the problem is that people don’t look at marriage as necessarily a lifetime commitment when they first get together. They get married because they are happy together and if they become unhappy, they walk away.
God set marriage as a relationship of equals, signified by how the woman was made from the rib of the man, made of the same substance, “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” When you are dating, do you look for someone who makes you feel good in the moment or are you looking for someone who helps you feel loved and become who you are supposed to be? Are you better disciples together than apart? When you find this person, there will still be challenges but you will choose to work through the challenges because of your love for each other.
It involves how we look at the other person as a “person,” as a child of God rather than just someone who makes us happy. We discover ourselves in discovering who they are.
I began with God’s words at the time of creation, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Our understanding of marriage has its roots in this line. Marriage as a covenant involves a deep respect for the spouse as a person.
We are called to respect all life. We are called to cherish all life. The love we find in a good marriage leads us to a love and respect for all persons.
Who else might be alone?
Here, I first think of the homebound in a parish. Because of health problems, they are not able to get out. Some of them have family and friends who regularly visit them but others don’t. They might feel “alone” in the world. Sometimes when I make a home visit, the person is just happy to have someone to talk to. Is there a homebound person who you might visit so they don’t feel alone?
I think this understanding of people feeling “alone” is very important when people are facing end of life issues. When making decisions for medical treatment when we face terminal medical conditions people often talk about the physically suffering the person faces but I think there can be a deeper pain that might not even have anything to do with their physical illness if they feel alone. If they feel alone, they might feel like no one cares. We need to let them know we care. In doing so, we give them a reason to live.
Moving from the end of life in this world to the beginning, there are women who choose abortion because they feel alone in the world and without hope. They might think no one cares and feel like it would be impossible for them to care for the child. What might you do to show you care so they know they are not alone?
What about a murderer? Those who advocate for the death penalty use the crime to justify the death penalty. I would suggest that having the death penalty might say to the person that life is not precious. We need to show them that life is precious. How many people who commit murder come from situations where they feel alone, that no one cares?
A marriage between is meant to be a deep love between a man and a woman. This love that has its origins in God should lead us to love all. God is love.